European Commission Consumer Financial Services Action Plan

European Commission Consumer Financial Services Action Plan

Consumer Financial Services Action Plan: Better products and more choice for European consumers

On the 23 March 2017, the European Commission presented an Action Plan that sets out ways to provide European consumers with greater choice and better access to financial services across the EU. At the heart of this launch is a focus on technology, given that innovative online services will drive progress towards a more integrated market for financial services. To that end, the Commission is also publishing a consultation on technology and its impact on the European financial services sector (so called ‘FinTech’) to spur the work in this area.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said: “European consumers and firms should be able to take full advantage of a true Single Market for financial services. Consumers should have access to the best products available across the EU, not just within their own country. At the same time, we want to explore the full potential of the technology that’s out there. If harnessed well, it has the potential to change for the better the financial industry and the way people access financial services.”

The Commission has identified three main strands of further work to move a step closer to a genuine Single Market for financial services:
Increase consumer trust and empower consumers when buying services at home or from other Member States.
Reduce legal and regulatory obstacles affecting businesses when seeking to expand abroad.
Support the development of an innovative digital world which can overcome some of the existing barriers to the Single Market.

In order to help the European FinTech sector operate freely across the EU and be competitive, the Commission intends to focus on three core principles: technology-neutrality, so that the same rules are applied to traditionally-sold products and services (e.g. via branches) as those sold digitally; this is to ensure innovation and a level-playing field. Second, proportionality so that the rules are suitable for different business models, size and activities of the regulated entities. Third, improved integrity to ensure transparency, privacy and security for consumers.

As a first step, the Commission invites all interested parties to respond to the FinTech consultation, which is being launched alongside the #FinTechEU conference which took place in Brussels on the same day the Action Plan was presented. The consultation aims to gather first-hand information on the impact of new technology on the entire financial sector. It will help to assess whether EU regulatory and supervisory rules are adequate and what future actions may be needed.

Source: European Commission Press Release, 23 March 2017 (http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-609_en.htm)

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